KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION AWARDS LORAIN COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOUNDATION $1 MILLION GRANT TO MAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGES A ‘FRONT DOOR’ FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP
‘Innovation Fund America’ program will replicate model to connect entrepreneurs to mentorship, education and capital
Elyria, OH (May 31, 2012) – A model for entrepreneurship education and early-stage funding for startups, born at Lorain County Community College, will make its way to the national stage with the support of a $1 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
The partnership aims to replicate nationally Lorain County Community College’s highly successful model for mentoring and funding high-growth startups, educating new founders, and, in turn, spurring regional economic growth. The project, named Innovation Fund America, will begin with a pilot in three communities around the country, to be selected in the coming months. Kauffman and LCCC aim to eventually scale the model to more schools around the country and build a national network to support them.
“Kauffman has a rich history of working with colleges and universities to build entrepreneurship education programs and curricula because entrepreneurship is a long-term strategy for job creation and economic growth,” said Thom Ruhe, Kauffman Foundation vice president of entrepreneurship. “With community colleges embedded in more than 1,200 communities across the United States, we see a tremendous opportunity to employ their resources to support, educate and inspire local residents to pursue entrepreneurial ventures.”
The Innovation Fund was launched by the Lorain County Community College Foundation in 2007 to support high-growth technology entrepreneurs in the historically manufacturing-centered northeast Ohio. It was founded as an extension of Lorain County Community College’s existing entrepreneurial support efforts, including the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE), an on-campus business incubator created in partnership with the Lorain County Commissioners and Lorain County Chamber of Commerce.
“Our partnership that created GLIDE provided Lorain County a vehicle to capture and grow new startups in high tech areas designated by Ohio Third Frontier,” said Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo. “The Innovation Fund has been a critical outgrowth of GLIDE, creating needed infrastructure for both mentoring and funding new companies to grow jobs.”
GLIDE’s entrepreneurial staff has advised more than 2,600 entrepreneurs and formally mentored over 100 companies that have created new jobs in Lorain County. The incubator's success pointed out significant funding need among early-stage companies.
Since its launch in 2007, the Innovation Fund has grown in partners and scope, adding significant resources of expertise, funding and support to the process. The Innovation Fund collaborative network now spans across the region and includes partners such as: Cleveland State University, Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy (NEOUCOM), Stark State College, The University of Akron, The University of Akron Research Foundation, Youngstown State University, and the Youngstown Business Incubator.
The Ohio Department of Development has been another key partner in the Innovation Fund. Ohio Third Frontier has provided critical matching support of nearly $4.5 million through its competitive-based Pre-Seed Fund initiative. Every dollar provided by Ohio Third Frontier was matched by local philanthropic organizations and partners, creating a total fund of over $10 million of which nearly $6 million has been awarded to promising technology start-ups.
"While Ohio Third Frontier, as a key partner, helped to light the flame by providing Pre-Seed Fund opportunities, LCCC continues to feed it by introducing programs that greatly benefit Ohio entrepreneurs," said Christiane Schmenk, Director of the Ohio Department of Development and Chair of the Ohio Third Frontier Commission. "This model is yet another example of how Ohio is getting a strong return on its investment and adding to our reputation as an innovation state."
Kauffman Foundation leaders said the Innovation Fund stood out because of the three critical components of its approach to supporting new and young firms: an emphasis on founder mentorship, experiential entrepreneurship education, and improving access to early stage funding.
In its first five years, the fund made nearly 100 awards totaling close to $6 million, leading to $62 million in follow-on funding and more than 150 internships for students.
“Despite being situated in one of the more economically depressed areas of the state, Lorain County Community College, through its Innovation Fund, has had a tremendous and positive impact on the entrepreneurial ecosystem of northeast Ohio,” Ruhe said. “We believe it’s a model that LCCC and Kauffman should replicate in other regions, and we will show that community colleges can, with the right resources, be at the center of local entrepreneur-led growth.”
Dr. Roy Church, president of Lorain County Community College concurred, emphasizing that the collaboration between LCCC and Kauffman will lead to a new class of entrepreneurial community colleges.
“This partnership with the Kauffman Foundation places community colleges at the forefront of supporting entrepreneurship,” he said. “By showcasing how this model can be replicated, we can enhance community colleges’ capacity to accelerate innovation in their communities.”
About the Kauffman Foundation
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to grow economies and improve human welfare. Through its research and other initiatives, the Kauffman Foundation aims to open young people’s eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, promote entrepreneurship education, raise awareness of entrepreneurship-friendly policies, and find alternative pathways for the commercialization of new knowledge and technologies. In addition, the Foundation focuses on initiatives in the Kansas City region to advance students’ math and science skills, and improve the educational achievement of urban students, including the Ewing Marion Kauffman School, a college preparatory charter school for middle and high school students. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has approximately $2 billion in assets. For more information, visit http://www.kauffman.org/, and follow the Foundation on www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.
About the Lorain County Communication College Foundation
The Lorain County Community College Foundation, a separate 501c3 organization, serves as the direct support organization for Lorain County Community College, a comprehensive community college serving over 17,000 students annually. The Foundation generates and manages resources to support the four cornerstones of Lorain County Community College’s mission: education, economic, cultural and community growth. With a focus on entrepreneurship, the two institutions have positioned the College as a regional leader in economic development. In 2001 the College, in partnership with the Lorain County Commissioners and Lorain County Chamber of Commerce, launched the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE), an incubator on campus that has advised more than 2,600 entrepreneurs and formally mentored over 100 companies. GLIDE’s success led to the Foundation’s 2007 creation of the Innovation Fund, a pre-seed fund that has awarded $5.6 million to 80 early-stage, technology-based companies. The Innovation Fund’s partners now include Ohio Third Frontier, the University of Akron, the University of Akron Research Foundation, Cleveland State University, the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE), the Lorain County Community College Foundation, Stark State College of Technology, Youngstown State University, the Youngstown Business Incubator, and Northeast Ohio Medical University. The Foundation is among the top community college foundations in the nation with total assets in excess of $30 million and is guided by 55 dedicated leaders, including entrepreneurs, investors and business executives, who help advance the strategic priorities of the College and Foundation.